The May Pole

The May PoleThe origins of the May Pole lie forever hidden in an impenetrable mist of pagan rituals and pre-Christian history.

The Maypole and the dance around it is often regarded a major symbol of spring’s reawakening of sexuality found throughout nature.  In general, a pole is erected in the

The pole is generally seen as a phallic symbol representing the masculine principle.  The  ribbons, flowers and wreaths that adorn it represent the female principle.  This is sometimes emphasized through the use of only white and red ribbons representing the purity of the maiden (white) and either menstruation or the first sexual experience (red).  This ritual symbolically is to acknowledge the interconnectedness of the masculine and feminine energies that are especially apparent this time of year in Nature.

The Council of American Witches wrote in 1973 in their General Principles of the Wiccan Faith that: “We conceive of the Creative Power in the universe as manifesting through polarity – as masculine and feminine – and that this same Creative Power lies in all people and functions through the interaction of the masculine and the feminine. We value neither above the other knowing each to be supportive of the other. We value sex as pleasure as the symbol and embodiment of life, and as one of the sources of energy used in magical practice and religious worship.”

Nearly all segments of the Pagan community regard men and women as true equals, complementary to the extent that the biological realities of gender means some differences in abilities and strengths, but with a clear understanding that this does not in any way privilege one gender over the other. For the most part, Paganism celebrates the differences between male and female and celebrate the joyful ways in which those differences can come together in friendship, love, and sexual union.

With this basic affirmation of equality between the sexes in place, the Pagan community nevertheless acknowledges the separateness of these energies.  Some Pagan groups recognize a difference between “Male Mysteries” and “Female Mysteries” – male mysteries can include a celebration of hunting, athletic competition, the ethos of the warrior, and the cultivation of virtues such as bravery and honor; likewise, female mysteries can include the celebration of the menstrual cycle, the feminine journey from maiden to mother to crone, and the cultivation of traditionally “feminine” skills such as divination, herbalism, or
healing work.   These may or may not be tied to specific biological genders. Thus, male herbalists and female warriors are not only accepted within the Pagan community, but can even be regarded as prestigious examples of the personal freedom available within the community.

Unlike other religious traditions that advocated celibacy, prohibit all sexual expression outside of marriage, and encourage married couples to limit or restrict their sexual behavior, Pagans often reflect the sexual permissiveness of the 1960s-era sexual revolution.  Although many Pagans adopt lifestyles consistent with mainstream society, those who choose alternative lifestyles generally are accepted within the Pagan community with no need to hide or apologize for their lifestyle choice.  While polyamory (non-monogamy) and swinging is generally tolerated, opinion is divided among Pagans as to whether such behavior is truly good. Even those who accept or embrace non-monogamy
believe it is wrong to lie or deceive one’s partner(s) about such behavior – in other words, it is only okay to have multiple sexual partners when everyone involved is knowledgeable and accepting of the situation.

Spring is truly a wonderful time to celebrate our sexuality whether symbolically with a maypole or with a loving partner.  I sincerely hope that you find joy in this season.

 

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About Sam Shryock

I am a resident of Kansas City metro area and have practiced Pagan Spirituality since 2007. I am a third-degree Wiccan with the Correllian-Nativist tradition, the local coordinator for Kansas City Pagan Pride Day, and the host of the monthly Kansas Coffee Coven. I currently work full-time in the Computer Industry. I am a retired Army Reserve Lieutenant Colonel and have a Masters Degree in Computer Resource and Information Management. Most importantly I am a proud husband, father, and grandfather.
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